Google Fiber confirmed for Louisville, but details remain scarce

Google confirmed it will head to Louisville, Kentucky, and created a sign-up page for residents who want to be alerted of its progress there. Image: Google

Google executives had very little to say about the company’s ongoing-but-paused Fiber business during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call with investors yesterday. However, the company did quietly confirm that it does plan to expand Google Fiber into Louisville, Kentucky.

News of Google’s plans for Louisville came from the city’s mayor.

“Many have eagerly waited to hear these words: Google Fiber is coming to Louisville,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a release. “This next step toward bringing Google Fiber’s super-fast internet network to Louisville demonstrates our city’s commitment to the type of forward-looking innovation that creates opportunities for businesses and families.”

“The start of construction is an exciting moment for Google Fiber in Louisville. Building a new fiber network is a big job, and we’re grateful for the continued patience and support of the city’s residents and leaders,” a Google Fiber spokesperson told Insider Louisville. “Working with our partners, we can’t wait to continue to develop creative ways to bring super fast connectivity to Louisville.”

But details on Google’s plans for the city were vague. The company said only that it would focus on metro Louisville, and noted it would provide deployment specifies at a later date. Google did post a page where residents can sign up for notifications about its progress.

Google’s move into Louisville isn’t a total surprise. Citing various sources close to the company, a TechRepublic article reported this week that the fledgling FTTH provider would move into the city.

Related: Google Fiber inches toward Louisville, Kentucky, service launch, but wireless broadband will be the focus

Louisville has been as one of the key battlegrounds for Google Fiber. The service provider and the city worked to pass a "one touch make ready" (OTMR) ordinance that would allow Google Fiber and other new entrants to access existing utility poles owned by AT&T and electric utilities to string fiber cable along streets and into homes and businesses.

The OTMR ordinance was a source of controversy between Google Fiber and Louisville’s incumbent telco AT&T, which sued Louisville for passing the utility pole attachment ordinance. OTMR would allow service providers like Google Fiber to move existing utility lines from AT&T and other service providers.

The local Currier Journal reported that a federal judge heard oral arguments this week on the lawsuit alleging that Louisville lacks jurisdiction in the OTMR matter.

News of Google’s move into Louisville comes amid a shakeup at Google that has seen the company pause much of its fiber buildouts. Many of the executives leading the effort, including Craig Barratt, have left the business.

Google’s fiber business also didn’t receive much attention during Google’s quarterly conference call yesterday to discuss its earnings.

“For the first quarter, Other Bets revenues were $244 million, primarily generated by Nest, Verily, and Fiber,” Google CFO Ruth Porat said during the event, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. Google’s “Other Bets” division houses its businesses ranging from Nest to Fiber.

“Other Bets accrued capex was $170 million, primarily reflecting a reduced investment in Fiber due to the pause in expansion we announced in 3Q 2016.”

The analysts at MoffettNathanson noted that Google’s $170 million capex in “Other Bets” represented a $107 million reduction from Google’s year-ago quarter and was fully $266 million below the firm’s forecast.

Overall, revenues for Google parent Alphabet were up 22% versus the first quarter of 2016 and 24% on a constant currency basis, the company said.